This Week’s Editorial: The bait’s on the hook

Election alarms are ringing as we are getting closer to the opening of Parliament on the first Tuesday of October. Whether the PM will take this opportunity to specify the date of the general election remains to be seen – he still has until next spring – but the political world is acting as if it could be anytime soon.

The late summer has seen MPs gathering and issuing claims and promises. The major issue is still austerity on the immigration front. According to the polls, the new girl in class, Pernille Vermund from the Nye Borgerlige extreme right party, will end up with four to eight seats. She demands a categorical end to asylum as one of her conditions to support any government. That cannot be, so she is out of the equation – or what?

A softer line on foreigners
On the other hand we have Radikale. They are the only old party demanding a policy with a more lenient attitude towards foreigners. Exactly how lenient we don’t know, but already people are joining the party as new members – especially if they have experienced the bureaucratic and hostile procedures for obtaining residence and work permits for spouses. Also, the citizenship test that has to be passed has reached such a level of complexity that an increasing number of Danes are unable to pass it.

Radikale leader Morten Østergaard has demanded a written guarantee of more leniency towards foreigners from Socialdemokratiet leader Mette Frederiksen. As you cannot take a broken political promise to court it is a provocation – and of course has been rejected. But it remains to be seen if Radikale would bring down a red government as any tightening-up, if it only pertains to Muslims shaking hands or not, will probably have a broad majority behind it.

Desperation setting in
The red parties are beginning to sound desperate – and with good reason. Alternativet leader Uffe Elbæk, who surprised everybody at the last election, has put himself forward as a candidate to become PM. So has Pernille Skipper from the left-wing Enhedslisten party, but she will support Mette Frederiksen as an alternative. Even Socialistisk Folkeparti has an ultimatum. The maximum social support level, kontanthjælpen, must be removed or else!

The blue parties have started a goodwill campaign – 400 million kroner to disadvantaged children to mention one initiative from last week. The polls are now predicting a tie, but that is good news for the PM, who will start the budget negotiations from the high ground and with money in the coffers. Liberal Alliance and Konservative dare not go their own way this time. Once again, everything depends on Dansk Folkeparti. Left or right? Who is offering the best bait? For that, read seats in government.

The migrant headache
When we turn the page we have to bear in mind that we will also soon elect members to the European Parliament, and this time with an extra member for Denmark following Brexit. With the financial crises behind us and even Greece back in business, the coming years will present us with a colossal task in establishing a migrant policy to deal with the inflow of desperate people from Africa. Hopefully, many of the Syrians can return home, but with Bashar al-Assad at the helm, many will prefer to stay in Europe.

The EU leaders will be very busy. If they don’t find tempting bait for their hooks that attracts the electorate, like Sisyphus, they will have to roll the stone up the hill again.